Why Camp America Was the Most Amazing Experience of My Life
Seven weeks, hundreds and hundreds of campers, thousands of degrees heat(!), and life time friendships. That, in a nutshell is what camp is. But let me start from the very beginning of my camp experience. Let me warn you, no matter what ANYONE tells you, about camp, about what to expect, YOUR experience will be nothing like anyone else’s. So I’ll give you an idea, hopefully it will make you even more excited about going to camp!
Waking up in the UK in May, rushing to check everything is packed. (TIP: do not over pack! I did, and I also ended up throwing away lots and lots of clothes! Just take the necessities, remember they have Walmart and Target!!). Then on to the airport, I met 3 other people from my camp that were on the same flight as me. Saying goodbye to my parents, siblings and grandparents was hard and there were a lot of tears, but as soon as we went through to security and did our final wave, it suddenly all felt real.
Getting to Camp
The camp I went to was in Indiana, the heat literally hit us right in the face, legs, arms, every part of us as we walked to the mini bus. Jet lag was also creeping up on me and I could feel myself just falling asleep on the drive from the airport to camp. So, after an hour and a half drive we made it to camp! All I could think about was sleep, but as you’ll learn when you get to camp, you forget what sleep is! On our first night we had a campfire, ate s’mores and sang camp songs. (TIP: learn as many camp songs as you can, and get involved from the beginning! ALSO become a pro at building fires!). By 9.30pm I was ready to sleep, and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was gone.
So, we then had a week and a half of staff training. This included fun and exciting stuff like, tye – dye, cookouts, hiking and swimming, and also helpful and useful training like first aid and CPR. Passing the first aid and CPR training meant that already I had gained a skill, and I really enjoyed learning and accomplishing new things. (TIP: don’t be afraid of performing first aid, putting a ‘band-aid’ on a camper really isn’t that scary!) After training we had 4 days where we could leave camp, the Americans are so nice, and will invite you to their house. My first experience of out of camp was going to Kokomo. Seeing different parts of Indiana, different cultures and lifestyles was a real learning curve, and is truly fascinating.
The first day the campers arrive is nerve-racking, exciting and overwhelming. The way my camp worked was that the campers arrived on the Sunday afternoon and left on Friday afternoon. The campers had personalities shall I say! Always keeping me laughing. Meeting all these different characters was very interesting, and some campers I will never ever forget! Being English, the campers LOVE LOVE LOVE our accent, and for seven weeks you’ll be asked “say…” “now say….” “now say…. In your American accent”. They love it and it can keep them entertained for a very long time!
One MASSIVE tip I will give is to make sure you are prepared for each week/session. Plan everything, every hour, something that you can refer to. Also make sure you have back up options, the weather can change in an instant. There were times I was meant to take the campers swimming, or do an outside activity, and storms and rain meant I had to quickly think of a different activity to do that was indoors.
Camp is An Incredible Experience
I had some amazing experiences at camp. American storms are a lot cooler than the ones in the UK. The thunder is so deafening and the lightening blinding! It really is an incredible thing to watch! Camp is also really fun, not only for the campers but also for the councilors! On the last week of camp we had a whole camp shaving foam fight, during Hunger Games week, I was part of the Capitol therefore got pretty much everything done for me.
I learnt so much at camp and also did so many things I would never had dreamed of doing! For example, I was absolutely petrified of horses before I went to camp, would not go anywhere near them, let alone pet them! However, by the end of camp I had ridden horses, saddled and bareback, completely getting over my fear! I also swam in the lake, canoed, kayaked, sailed, all things I’d never done before, but loved once I had done them! (TIP: take every single opportunity handed to you, you will honestly regret it if you don’t!!)
The experience is hard, I won’t lie to you, and the first few weeks are overwhelming as you are still trying to learn, but keep going it does get a lot easier. At the same time it is the most amazing, incredible, wonderful experience you will ever have. You will make best friends, and make unbelievable memories.
By Ella Halewood
If you would like to experience summer in the USA like Ella check out Camp America or view our guide to the best American summer camp agencies!